Elon Musk Just Bought 1 Million Trees, but Is That Enough to Help Our Environment?

A YouTuber-led project battling climate change is hoping to plant 20 million trees by end of 2022.
Fabienne Lang

Climate change discussions have been, quite rightly, at the forefront of many peoples' conversations lately, and this week was no exception. On Tuesday, Elon Musk donated $1 million to the environmentally-focused #TeamTrees project. 

The project kick-started with YouTuber Jimmy Donaldson, with the aim of planting 20 million trees by end of 2022. Every dollar plants one tree.

Some scientists, however, are saying it's simply not enough to curb our CO2 emissions.


Why did the tree campaign begin?

The #TeamTrees campaign is spearheaded by YouTube influencer Jimmy Donaldson, also known as Mr. Beast, who is working with the Arbor Day Foundation. 

The goal is to raise $20 million before the end of 2019, to plant 20 million trees by the end of 2022. As it stands, by the time this article is published, over 11.2 million trees have already been planted. These trees are being planted on every continent, except for Antarctica. 

One of the ways the campaign is gaining rapid recognition and assistance is by receiving donations from high profile people, such as Elon Musk who has already donated $1 million. Musk even changed his Twitter name to 'Treelon' for the cause.

Musk isn't the only one to be joining the ranks of donation-givers to this cause. Other high-profile people, such as Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey donated $150,000, and music producer Alan Walker gave $100,000, among others, have also given charitable contributions.

Donaldson himself contributed $100,002 and $100,000 to the project. YouTube, the platform on which the entire project kickstarted, has promised to "match the next million."

How will this project help our climate issue?

The project is part of a wider concern to combat the effects of anthropogenic climate change and to lower carbon dioxide emissions on our planet. 

Trees, like most plants, consume carbon dioxide (CO2), sunlight and water, release oxygen, and glucose. Unfortunately, as our CO2 levels are so high, many scientists believe the process of reforestation is simply not enough to counter these emissions. 

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A July 2019 study published in Science pointed out that planting trees across 900 million hectares (or 2.2 billion acres) could absorb two-thirds of our carbon emissions — something that would greatly assist us.

However, many scientists openly questioned this study, with the major issue that we simply don't have enough land on which to plant the trees. 

Furthermore, if those many new trees were planted, they would need to take over land that could be used for crops or pastures, which would curb food production.

That isn't to say that planting trees is bad. Scientists have agreed that planting 20 million new trees on our planet would be a positive attribute. However, the bigger goal for climate change is to curb carbon dioxide emissions through a faster method.

The #TeamTrees project is by no means a write-off, and should certainly be commended. You can donate your very own trees directly on their website, here.